DGL can use fire rounds that cannot be launched from grenade
of these include-
Ring aerofoil grenades- for flat trajectory shooting of
either riot control or explosive.
Multiple loadings -for example, an anti-ambush round
consisting of a canister rounds and a Ring Aerofoil White Phosphorus
grenade. Multiple loadings of M203 rounds are also possible.
An incendiary round based on the German Hafla DM 34.
A cartridge flow-stream flamethrower.
A Flame capsule grenade containing Thickened Pyrotechnic
Multi-shot canister loading (either multiple barrel or
Grapple and line.
Underbarrel version of the Brunswick RAW.
A 7-9 barrelled "Volley Gun", each barrel
loaded with several projectiles. This would offer a longer ranged
alternative to canister with better penetration.
Other potential rounds include:-
with OICW rounds may be possible, but unless the rifle is fitted with a Fuse
Setting Interfacer these will only function as impact fused projectiles. A
simple interface unit where the detonation range is manually selected could
be fitted to a rifle or made part of the disposable unit.
been suggested to me that fired launchers should auto-eject from the rifle -
this would be a good feature so long as this mechanism doesn't operate when
the launchers are being fired handheld.
I've called these devices
disposable; should be cheap enough to be treated as disposable but for
training purposes they may be capable of being reloaded several times.
A friend suggests an
"These are a good enough idea that I suggest a small additional
wrinkle: make two models. M1 is a robust steel and alloy version that
can be reloaded by the soldier. This is for economical training purposes.
M2 is a cheap plastic and fiberglass version, ideally w/ a break-apart
feature that prevents it from ever being fired more than once. This is for
advanced training and, esp., for war. If they're disabled by firing, no
enemy can scavenge and reuse them, the way Charlie did much too well w/
discarded US ordnance in Nam. Why a training version? Because men must
practice w/ these weapons a lot"
Big Boy's Bomb Thrower. (3BT)
This is intended to
combine the punch of a rifle grenade with the accuracy of a grenade gun.
I thought such a weapon might be useful in open terrain or against fast
moving light vehicles. It may replace the light mortar on terrain that is
too soft for such weapons. The round I imagined originally resembled a
modified rifle grenade mounted on a grenade gun case. Rocket assisted models
would be possible. The launcher is a single shot break open weapon
with a straight-line layout, and an optic sight mounted halfway down the
barrel. This arrangement allows the greatest flexibility over the form of
rounds that can be chambered. Because the recoil would be greater than an
M203, the furniture would be separated from the barrel by a recoil buffer
and another buffer built into the butt.
Since I first thought of
this idea I've added a few refinements:-
therefore has a choice of hard hitting, flat flying or long-range
projectiles. I'd originally imagined the weapon as being of a greater
calibre than an M203, though the use of Mk-19 rounds would necessitate a
40mm weapon. This should not be a problem since 40mm RAGs were used by
helicopter gunships in Vietnam and many rifle grenades are of around 40mm.
The same weapon may also be able to handle M203 rounds. It is
also possible that this weapon could be fitted with a discharger cup to fire
larger projectiles. I can see a 3BT and a couple of dozen assorted
rounds being part of the standard equipment of vehicles on active service.
It may also replace the platoon mortar. Its range and accuracy would make it
the obvious choice for target marking teams.
40 x 53mm Grenades could be
fired from a simple launcher of less than 4kg weight if only indirect fire
was used. Such a weapon would be simpler than a 3BT and could be
created from a re-chambered M79
with the butt reshaped to prevent shoulder firing. Such a weapon would be
useful to Scout platoons, allowing them to illuminate or mark targets at
ranges in excess of 700m. A double barreled version of such a mortar would
be possible. Batteries of such weapons would be useful anti-ambush devices
for light vehicles.
AMR launched Rifle Grenades?
A option that has not been
investigated with AMRs is their potential as grenade throwers. When
the WW2 German PZB 38/39 anti-tank rifle became obsolete many were fitted
with cup dischargers so they could launch grenades, including the various
hollow charge models coming into service. To the best of my
knowledge, spigot-tailed rifle grenades have not been built for AMRs, but
the idea may have potential for both indirect and direct fire roles. Use of
such grenades would give an AMR team an organic capability to illuminate
distant targets during night actions.Specialised Grenade Rounds.
Anti windscreen round These
are intended to be used in weapons such as the M203, the multi-shot grenade
launcher and the Disposable Grenade Launcher. One option is a very
soft HESH round -probably too soft to feed through an automatic action. This
flattens against the windscreen and is fired by an inertia fuse. If
this doesn't perform as expected then a warhead with three or more horns
should be tried. This design has been used on crossbow quarrels and whaling
harpoons for centuries. As one point hits the target it causes the round to
flip over and turn perpendicular to the surface of windscreen. Fusing will
be an inertia fuse with a short delay. Warhead is probably some form of
Adhesive smoke projectiles These
are intended to be fired from M203s, 3BTs or disposable grenade launchers to
mark targets for air or artillery strikes. The shell shatters on
impact and the contents stick to the target and produce a column of smoke.
This allows a building to be marked high up where the signal is more visible
and also allows mobile targets such as vehicles to be marked. Ideally this
round should also be visible at night to both the naked eye and night vision
systems. It is possible that this role could be performed by a grenade
filled with some variant of napalm. In this case the round would also find
Grenades, Trip Mines and Flare Guns.
Multi-Option Grenade Fusing.
An electronic grenade fuse is
not only more reliable and consistent, it can also have several fusing
These may be: -
Long delay (for rifle launched use)
Impact with long delay.
Impact with "no delay" -in fact a very long
delay for self-destruction. This setting is used for when dropping from
tall buildings, cliff tops, helicopters etc.
Booby-trap. Grenade explodes when pin is removed UNLESS
the safety lever is being held -in this case the fuse defaults to short
A combined hand and rifle
grenade, as proposed
could have the following mechanism:-
In the hand thrown mode it should have a conventional
appearing safety lever and pin arrangement.
For muzzle launching the fuse would be activated by the
acceleration of launching or by the bullet impacting the bullet trap.
Some mechanism will
be needed to prevent the pin and lever mechanism being used if the grenade is
fixed to the muzzle. Most useful way to do this is to have the lever
automatically locked in position when the barrel is inserted into the tail
The most practical arrangement
I see is to have the tail unit telescoping out of the "top" of the
grenade, where the fuse and lever are. In fact the lever and pin would be
attached to the end of the tail, allowing the lever to be held in by the hand
when the tail is deployed and the grenade is used as a hand-thrown stick
grenade. The obstruction of the barrel in the tail unit would prevent the
safety lever ejecting, or better still prevent the pin being removed.
In the hand-thrown mode the loss of the safety lever completes an
electrical circuit that activates the fuse system in the main grenade body.
For such a grenade it is important that the stabilising fins of the tail are
unlikely to catch on the fingers when the grenade is hand thrown in
"stick" mode. Electronic fusing will probably be needed
for a one-piece rifle-hand grenade.
Another consideration is that
the projectile should also be compatible with 7.62x51mm rifles and 9mm and .45
submachine guns. A practice version of the grenade in rifle launched
configuration should be built that can be launched by blank rounds but has the
same trajectory as the live grenade propelled by a ball round.
Training could be an up-dated
version of the medieval game of "Rover" -essentially Golf using a
longbow. The soldier would move over a course of rural and urban terrain with
targets at varying ranges and elevations, and be required to hit each with a
The Dutch had a Mini- hand
grenade that had a body the same size as a golf ball. Casualty radius was
about the same as that of a M203 round. Mini-grenades could be built by
marrying M203 warheads with a different fuse. Large numbers of
these mini-grenades could be carried and they could be thrown to a respectable
Such weapons may be useful for house clearing or covert operations. For the
latter application smoke bomb and tear gas variants would be useful too. The
two chemical rounds would have cylindrical bodies rather than spherical and be
textured so they could be distinguished by touch in the dark. I suggest a
corrugated surface for Tear gas; smooth for smoke.
Rocket Assisted Hand Grenades
"Defence Today" 27th
April 1988 reported that China was offering a Type 79 "Rocket Assisted
Hand Grenade". This is best described as a small, cut-down
Panzerfaust with a blind ended launch tube. Calibre was 45mm, weight was
650gms and range was 400m. I think the warhead had a casualty radius of 8-9m,
but I can't recall if the warhead was HEAT-MP or just frag'.
Anti-Tank Hand Grenades
The hollow charge anti-tank
hand grenade was first developed in WW2 by the Germans. The Russians have
continued to manufacture and use such weapons. Allegedly, using these grenades has hazards other than
having to be in close proximity to a hostile tank. The radius of the fragments
is not much less than the maximum throwing range.
questionable as to whether such weapons are still useful. For
normal infantry I'm inclined to answer no -such forces usually have access to
alternate systems such as rifle grenades and LAWs. Where they are
useful is in the arsenals of Covert and Special forces. Such units may
be using weapons that are incompatible with rifle grenades or be unable to
conceal larger weapons. Since the targets these are used on are mainly soft
skinned or lightly armoured such grenades may prove very effective.
Any new model of Anti-tank
Hand Grenade should be mainly made of material that does not fragment and
utilise pre-formed fragments arranged to spread in a cylindrical rather
spherical pattern, as has been done for the Telegren rifle grenades.
I've not encountered any details of how the Russians used their grenades, but
I expect that an effective tactic would be two grenadiers engaging a target
simultaneously, supported by screening smoke. In an urban environment grenades
could be thrown down onto the top armour of vehicles.
The Gammon Bomb was a WW2
grenade used by airborne forces, resistance fighters and special forces. Some
sources attribute the name to a Lt. Gammon of the 1st
Parachute battalion, others to the shape of the item. It consisted
of an All-ways impact fuse and a stockinette bag. The idea was that the user
added a charge of plastic explosive to suit the intended use -half a stick for
an anti-personnel concussion grenade; three or four for demolitions or
anti-vehicular use. No doubt scraps of metal were sometimes added as
explosive several grenades could be rolled up and fitted in the bottom of a
pocket. Even when charged the grenade could be packed in various crannies
since the only inflexible part was the fuse. One cannot help but wonder
if this malleability gave the grenade a HESH effect on some targets. A
modern Gammon bomb could use a programmable electronic fuse, allowing it to be
placed as well as thrown. I also suggest that the bomb be given an integral
charge of its own, so that it is always capable of being used as a weapon.
Additional plastique would be packed around the outside of this charge. This
last strategy will suggest to some readers that one can field improvise Gammon
bombs by packing plastique around other hand grenades and maybe enclosing the
charge in a plastic bag.
This is a grenade that has the
same effects as a Phosphorus grenade without the storage dangers. A
bursting charge is surrounded with pre-formed fragments (shrapnel) held in a
matrix of air-reactive smoke compound. The grenade therefore has screening and
antipersonnel applications. If the explosive is thermally enhanced it
can also serve as an incendiary.
I once came across an idea for
a foam grenade. This seemed like a good idea for police, particularly if it
could be used as a hand-spray or a grenade. It is possible such devices
could be used in MOUT and may see offensive use too. After all, Dry ice
(Carbon Dioxide) is used to produce smoke screens for TV.
This is an explosive charge
about the size and shape of a cigarette packet. It is fitted with either
a motion detector, a laser tripwire or an infra-red sensor. An adhesive pad
allows the mine to be stuck to walls or tree trunks as well as being placed on
the ground. Trip mines could be quickly scattered behind a unit to
hinder pursuit. This would be very useful for small raiding units.
A variant that can be remotely deactivated can be used for perimeter
Although an essential item of
equipment, flare guns are often overlooked. Not only can they provide
illumination, but they may also at times be a more useful signalling device
than even radio.
"Flares are terribly underused. They make excellent target
identification aids at night when using air assets. Firing a flare at the
enemy has a pretty good psychological impact and will destroy their night
vision for quite a while as well."
Flares can also be useful
incendiary projectiles. During WW2 the Germans developed at least two
models of grenade throwing flare pistol. Hecker and Koch have continued this
concept with a discharger cup and barrel insert that fits some models of their
flare pistols. There are, however, tactically more flexible ways to
An adapter could be made that allows
grenade projection from unmodified flare guns. One end clips on to the grenade
and safety lever while the other is inserted in the flaregun barrel. An
interesting possibility is that the tail could contain a captive piston,
making grenade use flashless and quiet. This would be useful during night
combat and in close range operations. As well as the hand grenade
adapter a supercalibre flare for large scale illumination could also be built.
The other combat flare round
that most suggests itself is a 1" calibre "Shotshell" -although
the round could also contain a cloud of HC smoke or riot agent. Another
idea for flare guns is to build a 12 gauge barrel insert that is longer than
the flare gun's barrel. Such a device would convert the flare gun into a
survival shotgun for aircrews.
Infantry Anti-Armour and Support Launchers
anti-tank launchers exist in both disposable and re-loadable forms. Both
types are needed, since disposable one-use weapons give each individual in the
squad an anti-tank capability, while reloadable weapons form a more manageable
load for anti-armour specialists that may need to make more than a couple of
shots. Some companies, such as Bazalt
seem to be considering uniting the two types. This idea can either be though
of as upgrading expendable launchers by adding better sighting units and
mountings, or as having launcher reloads that can also be fired from their
carrying containers. I'll detail my own ideas about such a
"Universal" launcher later
is in fact something of a misnomer. Ever since their introduction such weapons
have been used against personnel, machine gun nests, trucks, buildings and
anything else that the user takes exception. This is recognised by some
designers who offer a variety of warhead types. Many weapons are now regarded
as multi-purpose support systems and are now being used to deliver
liquid-incendiary, thermobaric and smoke warheads as well as the more
traditional explosive loads. There is some merit to the statement that such
weapons can replace artillery under certain conditions.
A platoon of men could carry more than a score of weapons like the RPO-Shmel,
giving them a considerable destructive capability against any target within a
kilometer range.Multi-Purpose launcher/ RPG 2000
Carl Gustav is a good weapon, but I think an RPG
configuration would be more useful. Such a weapon is easier for a single
operator to re-load, the launch tube is less bulky and different calibres of
projectile can be launched from the same tube. Use of small calibre rounds for
certain tasks will allow more rounds to be carried. Being capable of
both high angle and direct fire, this weapon partially fills the niches of
anti-tank system, light mortar and grenade launcher. I can see this as being a
useful platoon level support weapon.
What I term the RPG
2000 is an RPG
7 type weapon, very simple and possibly with ammo compatible with the RPG-7.
Most likely, the weapon will fire both standard RPG ammo and dedicated rounds
with a Davis-style system using liquid counter-shot for a low signature
launch. It may be that only the ammo needs to be developed; the RPG-7 as it
stands is probably strong and versatile enough to handle counter-shot
Rounds that have a rocket
motor will be referred to as "Rockets", while those that are
projected by the just a propelling charge are referred to as
"Bombs". Some warheads could use components of existing mortar
rounds or rifle grenades.
Large calibre HEAT-MP-Frag rocket, maybe based on the Brunswick
Smaller calibre smoke bomb.
Parachute Illumination round -either a rocket or bomb.
Small multipurpose HE or HEDP bomb for high angle fire.
Incendiary rounds or small antipersonnel rockets are also
possible- similar rounds already exist for the RPG 7.
Long range rocket for stand-off attacks on soft targets.
Possibly this round can use ramjet propulsion. The range limiting factor
for standard RPG rounds is a self-destruct mechanism that operates after
4.5sec, limiting range to 920m. A long range rocket would have the option
of extending the time to self-destruction.
Two improvements are usually
called for by the users of Disposable anti-tank weapons. Most common
request is for the ability for the launcher to be fired from confined spaces
such as the interior of buildings. This can be achieved by using a captive
piston design with plastic counter-shot. The second is for the launch
tube to have some form of pistol grip so that it can be brought into action
more rapidly. Both of these criteria are met by the German Armburst
launcher. Like most disposable launchers the Armburst has a warhead the same
calibre as its launch tube (67mm), which puts it in a similar class to the
This needn't be the case.
It is quite possible to build a disposable launcher with a supercalibre
warhead -in fact the earliest of design of launcher (the Panzerfaust) was of
this form. Using a supercalibre warhead in an Armburst launch tube
offers several advantages.
A bigger warhead.
Since the warhead is now external, space inside the launch
tube can be taken up by a larger rocket motor.
The warhead can be removed from the motor. This may make
the launcher easier to transport, or allow the user to exchange the
warhead for one of a different type.
possibility therefore exists that the standard Armburst could replace the M72
while a supercalibre version based on the same launcher could replace the
The potential of disposable
light anti-tank weapons could also be greatly enhanced if some form of
guidance mechanism was incorporated. For a disposable weapon the most
practical system would probably be wire guidance with a TCA/SACLOS system..
Such a weapon should also incorporate a low signature launch system.
Such weapons could be used at Squad level, and therefore supplement or replace
the M47 Dragon.
New ideas for the Brunswick
Rifleman's Assault Weapon (RAW)
RAW was an interesting weapon that showed considerable destructive
potential. In form it was a spherical 6" diameter rocket propelled rifle
grenade. The original model had a HESH warhead but later models had a HEAT
warhead with a laser proximity fuse. The Launch mechanism was also quite
novel. The grenade fitted in a bracket under the rifle's muzzle and some of
the gas from firing a ball round was diverted to launch the grenade.
Whilst the warhead was effective, it was probably the launching mechanism that
prevented the concept catching on. Two improvements suggest themselves.
Firstly, to give the grenade its own propellant charge in
a launch tube that mounts underneath the fore-end of the rifle. This would
be more efficient and better balanced.
The second is to take the warhead, mate it to a rocket
motor and fire it from a low signature recoilless launch tube to create a
lightweight but potent LAW system.
Alternatives to Anti-Material Rifles
There are other cheap solutions to light armour other than
One is to
produce small high speed rockets for weapons like the RPG
2000. A four barrelled launcher based on the 66mm
M202 but loaded with HEAT/HEDP rockets is another option, and this may
have other applications such as being an alternative to SMAW. Like the
SMAW this launcher might use a spotting rifle. The spotting rifle would be a
"Sten gun-like" weapon in its simplicity, and several rounds for
this would be issued with each rocket reload.
The original M202 was issued with
Incendiary or Tear gas rockets. Various other projectiles may be possible,
including anti-bunker rounds. The M72A3 rocket may form a good starting point
for the HEAT rocket, while the HEDP equivalent could have a HESH warhead.
Multiple rocket launchers made from Bazookas were used as trench
artillery in Korea, so a similar weapon may still prove useful for other
Another idea of an anti-light
armour weapon is a repeating Recoilless Rifle of
25-40mm. A revolver mechanism would probably be simplest, and by diverting
countershot gas from the barrel rather than the breech it may be feasible to
use standard cannon shells as ammo.
recoilless guns are also possible. The Swedish Mini-Man 58mm weapons fill a
role similar to the M72. Light armoured vehicles could also be attacked by
disposable recoilless launchers loaded with small calibre supersonic
projectiles. Such weapons might also give an infantryman capability against
helicopters or have sniping applications.
system comprises of a launch tube/carrying case, sighting unit and a rest.
Unlike systems such as the M 47 Dragon the launch tube has its own sights and
trigger, so the rocket can be fired from the launch tube without the other
components being attached. All soldiers carrying rounds can therefore
fire them themselves. Anti-armour specialists are distinguished by having a
superior sighting system and mounting. I can see such a system having
a family of projectiles. These may include:
A high capacity smoke round, possibly of around 120mm
Rounds of 85-105mm. These would include Anti-tank,
Thermobaric, Flame-capsule and a smaller tactical smoke round.
Small projectiles. A general purpose HEDP round of 60-75mm
and a High Velocity Anti-Light Armour round.
Illumination round. This would in fact be an expendable
one-shot mortar tube that is usually used on its own.
All of these rounds (with the
exception of the ILL round) would use a captive piston system for low launch
signature and confined space launch. Some projectiles may incorporate guidance
systems. The Sighting Unit would incorporate Day/Night optics, a
rangefinder and a ballistic computer. Other devices such as motion trackers
may also be fitted. On one side of the unit is a pylon that can accommodate
different sizes of launch tube. Some mechanism for the sighting unit to
recognise the type of round loaded will also be fitted. The
mounting unit may be an adjustable bipod as is used by the M47, or may be a
machine gun tripod. Vehicle mounts are also likely.
Western armies have ignored new
infantry weapons for quite some time. Other armies may prove more inventive and
deliver nasty surprises in the future.
Phil West email@example.com
Future Infantry Weapons
Following feedback from my
infantry weapons articles I now think that the most practical approach to
produce a rifle-hand grenade is to adapt a rifle grenade design to hand
throwing. A weapon like the FN Telgren
is similar in size to a hand grenade in its un-telescoped state (40 x 190mm).
All that is really needed is a pin, safety lever and new fusing mechanism. Since
the fuse will need to be changed a multi-option model can be fitted, as has been
40x46mmSR grenades for the
M203 could also be adapted for hand throwing. The nose of the grenade could be
fitted with a flip-up cap to expose an manual actuator. Such "Pop-top"
grenades would fill the mini-grenade role described in my previous article. I
can't really claim any credit for this idea -the grenade rounds in the movie "Aliens"
had this feature.
While on the subject of
M203 grenades it is worth considering the idea that these rounds could have a
composite casing -brass around the propellant charge with an aluminum or polymer
casing for the expansion chamber. This will lighten the soldier's load, as well
as decreasing the chance of unpredictable fragmentation in the hand thrown mode.
The disposable Grenade
Launcher offers several advantages over both rifle grenades and grenade
cartridges, but I was uncertain that it could be adapted to hand throwing. Large
components such as parts of the trigger mechanism seemed likely to carry far
enough to endanger the thrower. The obvious answer is to design the device so
that the trigger unit needs to be detached to arm the weapon for hand throwing.
This would just leave the grenade, the launching spigot and the outer case
-something about the size of a tin can/offensive grenade.
There has also been
interest in the idea of launching grenades from mortars. A rifle-hand
grenade as described above could easily be adapted to mortar launch by fitting
it with a 60mm disc mounting a propellant charge. I doubt such projectiles would
have sufficient range for company fire support missions, but for platoon support
(in commando mortars) their use would conserve mortar bombs for longer range
fire. Grenades adapted to mortar fire would be lighter than bombs, so less of a
burden to the unit.
An idea I forgot to put
in the article was that of mounting a disposable launcher like the RPO on a
bracket on the outside of a vehicle, maybe in an armoured box. This would be
fired by cable or electrical circuit and form a sort of "one
shot assault gun"
A variation of this as a light
vehicle tank hunter role is shown at
Phil West firstname.lastname@example.org